Today, on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Patron of Journalists, the Vatican made public Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Social Communications. In his message the Holy Father energetically urges the media to aim at contributing to the formation rather than the corruption of children.
The theme of this year’s Day of Communications, which will be celebrated on May 20th, is “Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education.” This theme, the Holy Father says in his message, “invites us to reflect on two related topics of immense importance. The formation of children is one. The other, perhaps less obvious but no less important, is the formation of the media.”
“The complex challenges facing education today are often linked to the pervasive influence of the media in our world,” the Holy Father writes.
“Indeed,” the Pontiff continues, “some claim that the formative influence of the media rivals that of the school, the Church, and maybe even the home.”
“The relationship of children, media, and education can be considered from two perspectives: the formation of children by the media; and the formation of children to respond appropriately to the media.”
“Within this framework, training in the proper use of the media is essential for the cultural, moral and spiritual development of children,” he continues.
“Educating children to be discriminating in their use of the media is a responsibility of parents, Church, and school. The role of parents is of primary importance. They have a right and duty to ensure the prudent use of the media by training the conscience of their children to express sound and objective judgments which will then guide them in choosing or rejecting programs available,” the Pope writes.
“In doing so, parents should have the encouragement and assistance of schools and parishes in ensuring that this difficult, though satisfying, aspect of parenting is supported by the wider community,” Benedict adds.
“Media education should be positive. Children exposed to what is aesthetically and morally excellent are helped to develop appreciation, prudence and the skills of discernment. Here it is important to recognize the fundamental value of parents’ example and the benefits of introducing young people to children's classics in literature, to the fine arts and to uplifting music. While popular literature will always have its place in culture, the temptation to sensationalize should not be passively accepted in places of learning.”
The duty of the media
Pope Benedict also writes in his letter that while many in the media, “want to do what is right, we must also recognize that those who work in this field confront special psychological pressures and ethical dilemmas which at times see commercial competitiveness compelling communicators to lower standards.”
“Any trend to produce programs and products - including animated films and video games - which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents,” the Pontiff says.
“How could one explain this ‘entertainment’ to the countless innocent young people who actually suffer violence, exploitation and abuse,” the Pope asked.
For this reason, he continues, “again I appeal to the leaders of the media industry to educate and encourage producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family.”
“The Church herself, in the light of the message of salvation entrusted to her, is also a teacher of humanity and welcomes the opportunity to offer assistance to parents, educators, communicators, and young people,” he says, concluding, “Her own parish and school programs should be in the forefront of media education today.”
Read the entirety of the Holy Father's message here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=148